The Apparatus Architect – Part 9: Designing Engine Company Apparatus

Tom Shand and Michael Wilbur begin to detail critical aspects of engine company apparatus and how these factors can help an apparatus committee develop specifications.


In the last installment of the Apparatus Architect series (January 2002), we discussed concepts regarding the design development of engine company apparatus and how two fire departments addressed their needs with their new units. With this article we will begin to detail some of the critical aspects...


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Other Considerations

Hose trays or wells may be constructed of either smooth aluminum or stainless steel and should be bolted to the top of the bumper deck rather than welded in place. Bolted assemblies are easier to replace and less costly to repair. If your department has designed an engine company with a front trash line, you should consider what length of hoseline that you are going to run in this location and exactly how the hose in going to be loaded in the tray. Loading the hose flat or in an accordion fashion will put numerous folds in the line that can kink when the line is charged.

There are several ways to load the hose that will enable one firefighter to stretch the line and minimize the number of folds in the line. Several departments in the Maryland area have developed effective hose loads for the trash line. In particular, the Kentland Fire Department, Engine Company 33, in Prince George's County has developed a very effective hose load combining a modified horseshoe load with a double donut roll for both 100- and 150-foot bumper-mounted attack lines. The emphasis should be to design the trash line and soft suction hose wells so that the hoselines may be easily and safely deployed by one person. Other tools and fittings can be positioned on the front bumper deck, but these need to be secured and make sure that they do not block headlamps or warning lights.

Intersection warning lights are required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901 standard and these lights will be typically placed at the forward surface of the bumper or on top of the bumper deck. Consideration should be given to placing forward-facing warning lights at the bumper level, which may be more readily seen by passenger cars that are immediately in front of the apparatus. It may also prove beneficial to provide cornering lights or bumper guide markers that will clearly identify and illuminate the forward most portions of the apparatus. Since so many apparatus accidents occur while traveling through intersections, the front bumper area deserves special attention to enhance safety for the apparatus and crew.

When designing engine company apparatus, the committee should evaluate the ability of the pumper to deliver its rated capacity through a sufficient number of discharges, with a minimum of five pre-connected attack lines. As pump capacities increase, it is important that the pumper carry supply line of an adequate size to support the rated capabilities of the fire pump.

In the next installment of the Apparatus Architect we will cover the area of the pump panel and piping that is required to meet these objectives.


Tom Shand is a firefighter with the Newton-Abbott Volunteer Fire Department in the Town of Hamburg, NY, and a senior instructor at the Onondaga County Community College Public Safety Training Center. He is employed by American LaFrance and is assigned to the Hamburg Facility in the apparatus sales department. Michael Wilbur, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department, assigned to Ladder Company 27 in the Bronx, and has served for the past five years on the FDNY Apparatus Purchasing Committee. He has consulted on a variety of apparatus related issues throughout the country. Previous installments were in August, October and November 2000; February, May, June and July 2001; and January 2002.